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Three Eminent South Australians

The Lasts: Father and two sons

We are most grateful to Dr Peter Last, who kindly provided the information,photographs and the text about his father,brother and himself.

last familyThe three Lasts in 1985: John, Ray and Peter

Raymond Jack Last MB BS (Adelaide) FRCS FRACS (1903–1993) graduated in 1924 and was a general practitioner in Booleroo Centre 1927–1938.

In 1939 he went to London to seek Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, (FRCS). He worked in the Emergency Medical Service; survived torpedoing in December, 1940; and went to Abyssinia / Ethiopia for the British Red Cross Society, where he was personal physician to Emperor Hailie Selassie.

In 1945 he was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps as head of a unit to provide civilian services in Borneo. Most of the officers were Australians.

Demobilised in London, he passed FRCS, but was strongly influenced by Frederic Wood Jones, Elder Professor of Anatomy in Adelaide when Ray was a medical student and now a professor at RCS. Ray Last became widely renowned as Professor of Applied Anatomy at the College (1950–1970) and author of Anatomy: Regional and Applied, which passed through seven editions in his lifetime. He drew most of the diagrams, as he illustrated his vivid lectures with blackboard and chalk. He used no other aids.

After ‘retirement’, he spent 17 years teaching anatomy at University of California, Los Angeles, which brought him to Adelaide during our winters. Thus did succeeding generations of Adelaide medical students come under his influence, as did hundreds of surgeons, anaesthetists and dentists.

He bequeathed to Adelaide University £1,201,433.15 (sterling) to endow the Frederic Wood Jones chair in comparative anatomy. His grave is in Malta.


John Murray Last OC MD BS (Adelaide) Hon MD (Uppsala and Edinburgh) DPH FRACP FRCPC  FFPH (UK) FAFPHM (Hon) (1926–) graduated in 1949 and entered general practice in the Western Clinic before training in public health in Sydney. He served on the academic staff of the Universities of Sydney, Vermont USA, and Edinburgh before Ottawa, where he moved in 1969 and became a Canadian citizen in 1976.

He was President of the American College of Preventive Medicine 1987–89 and is a foundation fellow of the American College of Epidemiology. He is the author or editor of 21 books including Public Health and Preventive Medicine (“Maxcy-Rosenau-Last”), Public Health and Human Ecology and A Dictionary of Epidemiology which has been translated into 14 other languages and went through 4 editions from 1983 to 2000 under his leadership.

In June, 2012, he was admitted as an Officer of the Order of Canada, and announced in the Honours List on Canada Day, July 1st, 2012.


Peter Murray Last OAM MB BS (Adelaide) FRCP FRACP FRACMA (1929–) graduated Everard Scholar in 1952, held hospital posts in Adelaide and Melbourne, with a year of general practice, and went to London in 1958–59.

Peter set up renal dialysis at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital before returning to Royal Adelaide, where he acted at Medical Superintendent in 1963. From 1964 to 1972 he was Senior Specialist Physician at Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park and was simultaneously a visiting Honorary Physician at RAH. In 1972 he moved into the State health system.

In 1983 he became the first Clinical Superintendent of Julia Farr Centre, the largest nursing home in the country and basis of the SA Head Injury Service. He retired in 1990.

Peter has been a keen yachtsman and is an historian of many matters relating to local yachting. He wrote the definitive history of the Repatriation system in South Australia.